Patient Stories

Patient stories from Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Berkeley, California

Identify a Stroke by Acting FAST

Posted on May 2, 2015

Spot a StrokeWhen you’re not feeling well, it’s natural to think that taking a nap will fix the problem. However, when it comes to stroke, a nap won’t help. In fact, it might hurt because not recognizing a stroke in time can have deadly results.

Stroke’s telltale signs — weakness on one side, difficulty speaking, blurred vision and facial drooping — often are misunderstood. That can lead to a delay in seeking emergency medical treatment.

Improving stroke outcomes through knowledge

“Stroke is a silent disease that typically comes on suddenly and many people may not readily recognize the symptoms,” says Debra Blanchard, R.N., Stroke Center coordinator at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. “Without being aware of the risk factors for stroke, it’s easy to be taken by surprise.”

The most common risk factors for stroke include: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, previous strokes and irregular heartbeat. By learning about stroke and its risk factors, you can talk to your doctor and then take steps to reduce your chance of suffering from stroke.

Are you ready to act FAST if stroke happens?

Everyone can recognize stroke. FAST is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you see the signs, call 9-1-1.

FAST is:
Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time to Call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

“Family members are often the ones who will pick up subtle changes in speech and language the quickest,” says Blanchard. “They need to act on this detection and to do it FAST!”

Alta Bates Summit’s Regional Stroke Center Earns Top Honors

The regional Stroke Center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center was recognized in 2014 as a recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines ® Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and the Target Stroke Honor Roll Award for improving stroke care.

The awards acknowledge the hospital’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.

To receive the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, Alta Bates Summit’s Regional Stroke Center attained at least 85 percent compliance on all Get With The Guidelines ® Stroke Quality Achievement indicators for two or more consecutive years and achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With The Guidelines ® Stroke Quality Measures.

Visit: www.suttereastbay.org/stroke to learn more.

Ask An Expert About Nurse Practitioners

Posted on Apr 27, 2015

Sarah Noble, MSN, FNP

Sarah Noble, MSN, FNP

Sarah Noble, MSN, FNP

Nurse Practitioner, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

Q: My Ob-Gyn’s office recently added a nurse practitioner. Can you tell me more about their qualifications and what they do?

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has advanced education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions, disease prevention and the promotion of health wellness.

Nurse practitioners must complete a master’s or doctoral degree and receive additional medical training beyond their initial training as a registered nurse. Read More

Ask an Expert About Heartburn and GERD

Posted on Mar 26, 2015

Wilson S. Tsai, M.D.

Wilson S. Tsai, M.D.

Wilson S. Tsai, M.D.

Medical director of esophageal and thoracic surgery

Sutter Health’s Eden Medical Center

Q: I take medication for my heartburn, but lately it isn’t as effective. Why do I keep getting heartburn and what else can I do to relieve the symptoms?

A: Imagine a room in your house is on fire and the alarm goes off, but instead of calling 911, you remove the batteries from the annoying alarm.

Patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) who take medication to ease heartburn are essentially shutting down their bodies’ alarm system.

Drugs work great for symptom control, to decrease acidity in the stomach. But in many patients, they mask the real problem.

Read More

Saving a Student’s Heart

Posted on Jul 2, 2014

Dr. lee - Cinthia stethoscope

In March, Cinthia Zapien became one of the first patients in the Bay Area to receive a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD) that treats irregular heart rhythms. Cinthia’s physician, Dr. Michael Lee, a cardiologist with Alta Bates Medical Center expects Cinthia to have a full and productive healthy life.

A year ago, Cinthia Zapien – a 21-year-old college student with a bright future – learned that she had a genetic heart disorder that put her at risk of dying from sudden cardiac arrest. Cinthia has Long QT Syndrome, a rare abnormality of the heart’s electrical activity that causes dangerous heart arrhythmias. Cinthia started suffering fainting spells and other symptoms about five years ago and much of her father’s side of the family all suffers from the same disorder.

“My aunt and three of her daughters have the same condition and one of my cousins died when she was 11,” said Cinthia. “All of my sisters and my father are being monitored for Long QT Syndrome as well.”

Read More

Born Too Soon: Brooklyn’s Story

Posted on Mar 31, 2014

The Rantz Family (l-r): Kathy, Brooklyn and Rich, Ambassador Family<br />for the 2014 March for Babies Walk

The Rantz Family (l-r): Kathy, Brooklyn and Rich, Ambassador Family
for the 2014 March for Babies Walk

When the painful contractions began the morning of Nov. 16, 2007, Kathy Rantz and her husband, Rich, had no idea that their daughter Brooklyn would be born prematurely just two days later. Weighing just 1 pound, 5 ounces, her chances for survival were very slim.

“Brooklyn wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the outstanding care she received at Alta Bates in Berkeley,” says Kathy. “I make it my mission to share our story with anyone and everyone who’ll listen.” Read More

Three Hospitals, One Mission—Delivering Compassionate Care One Patient at a Time

Posted on Sep 5, 2013

We’ve talked about the importance of working together as a region to create a network of care for our patients. Thanks to your hard work, it’s paid off!

Watch the story of Kimberly Noack, whose life was transformed because of the compassionate care delivered by our staff at all three medical centers from Sutter Health’s East Bay.

Kimberly Noack, a grateful Sutter patient